Whether you’re running Facebook Ads for the first time or the thousandth, there are a lot of options to go over ranging from targeting, placements, and bidding. By the time you get to the ad formatting yourself, it’s understandable if you’re ready to just pick a simple, single image ad and be done with it.
If you do, however, you’ll miss the chance to rock the creative portion of your ad campaign, which is undoubtedly an important place to make your ad campaign really shine. One of the best examples of this is Facebook’s carousel ads.
Carousel ads– also known as multi-product or multi-image ads– are a format option available for Facebook and Instagram newsfeed ads that allow the advertiser to showcase multiple slides containing images, videos, text, and links in a single ad unit. They have a great track record for driving strong results and can be used to accomplish a large number of different goals.
Like with all campaigns on Facebook, sometimes getting creative is the best way to get those clicks and increase your conversions. In this post, we’re going to look at why you should be using carousel ads, how to create them, and 5 distinct, creative ways you can use them to get results
Why Use Facebook’s Carousel Ads?
If you’re asking “why should I be using carousel ads,” it’s a good question. When it comes to any sort of financial investment, you don’t want to just toss out money on what’s essentially an advertising gamble without some solid evidence it could be worth it.
Fortunately, when it comes to carousel ads, we have all that evidence and more.
Carousel ads stand out in the feed, which give them a distinct advantage. They’re also interactive, encouraging users to scroll through the slides to see more, and that need to know will get people doing so, even if they would have ignored your single-image ad in their feed. And since it gives you more room to advertise while offering these other distinct benefits, it’s not much of a surprise that they have such a strong performance record.
This ad format is known for high engagement, high click-through rates, and higher-than-average conversions. Consider the following case studies and statistics:
According to Facebook, they yield a 30-50% lower cost-per-conversion than other ad types, and 20-30% lower cost-per-click.
Brazilian shirt brand Christoff saw a 10x return on ad investment with carousel ads, and also saw a conversion cost 3x less than other ad types.
Tap4Fun mobile game developer saw a 20-30% CTR with carousel ads that highlighted their mobile ads.
While I don’t believe in “hacks” to social media marketing that grant instant success with little effort, carousel ads may be about as close as you can get… as long as everything in the ad campaign is tailored to your audience.
How to Create Facebook Carousel Ads
Creating carousel ads for Facebook or Instagram (or both– you can create a single campaign and run them on both platforms) is quick and easy.
Proceed through the ad creation process as you normally would, choosing your objectives, targeting, bidding, and more. You don’t have to select anything in particular in order to create carousel ads except for enabling feed placements. Once you get to the creatives section, it’s time to shine. Select “carousel” as your ad format; it’s currently listed first.
Once you get to the creatives section, it’s time to shine. Select “carousel” as your ad format; it’s currently listed first.
The first thing you should do is to create ad text. This main “Text” field will appear immediately above the images and videos that you choose, and will do the bulk of explaining what your ad is about. Make it count.
Next, you’ll create your first slide. Facebook automatically has 3 available to you, but you can add up to 10 slides for your ad campaign. Choose an image, and then add a headline and description. In this example, we’re using the headline as the dog’s name and then describing what makes them unique.
Don’t forget to add a unique link to the specific product page or landing page you want to send people to. In this case, for example, we wouldn’t want to send potential adoptees to the rescue’s website; we’d send them to the specific pet’s individual page.
An important thing to note here: when you’re uploading images, make sure that they’ll work well in a square format. You can crop the images in the ad creation tool, but it must be cropped to square dimensions. This goes for video, too. Since some images do not do well with these dimensions, keep that in mind.
If at any point you decide to add more slides or that you want to reorganise the order of the slides (perhaps my friends’ baby lab mix is a little cuter than my terrier), it’s easy to do so. Click on the + to add more slides, and simply reorder them by clicking and holding down the number of the slide you want to reorder, and dragging it into place.
Preview your ad to see how it will appear on in different placements, including desktop and mobile placements. If any key text (especially in the descriptions) was cut, look at how you can change it around to get the important stuff up front. Then just submit your ad for approval, and you’ll ready to go.
1. Tell a Story
Storytelling is undeniably powerful. You might not remember statistics, for example, about how many dogs are currently locked in shelters without a home, but you’ll always remember that Facebook video of the one golden retriever stray a rescue got into safety, cleaned up, and rehabilitated who now has a loving family.
That’s because stories are specific, and they’re memorable. They take you on a journey, and that’s going to stick around.
Even if you aren’t going for the emotionally rich and complex stories, you can still use storytelling elements to create strong carousel ads. Let’s look at the following example:
As the character moves through the frames, you are watching a story of how this one woman supposedly lives her life, and you naturally want to see what’s coming next. There’s on dialogue, no conflict, but none of that is needed; you’ve gotten the impression this ad wanted you to, which is that they can help you achieve stylish happiness with whatever you need to fill your home.
Another great example is the carousel ad run by Ice Breaker, which features Devin Abrams telling his story in short, digestible micro videos. He’s talking about his purpose, and it uses storytelling to keep viewers hooked and engaged.
2. Grab Attention with a Single, Large Picture
This is a cool strategy that I love seeing in my feed, breaking down a single, large image into multiple chunks to make up something impressive. This often takes the form of a triptych-type look, but sometimes dividing up the image into two different slides can work well.
Here’s an example from Facebook of what this would look like if all the slides were laid out next to each other:
This is a quick trick to get people to scroll and click, and it’s a good one. If you can see that part of a picture that’s interested you has been cut off, don’t you want to see what’s next out of sheer curiosity?
You can use photographs or even graphics that you can create quickly with drag-and-drop, affordable software like Snappa or Canva. If you don’t want to edit photographs, easy design software is a great solution and could quickly allow you to create something like the following from Telstra:
The one-image-multiple-slides strategy gives you more space to show an image, and it allows you to showcase a single image in a dynamic way. It does catch the eye, and the interactive component requiring users to see the full picture– which we naturally want to do– works in your favor here. It’s a great choice particularly if you want to promote only one product or service, but really want to demonstrate why it’s so valuable.
3. Highlight Items in a “Set”
A classic sales technique used to increase add-ons and purchase value is to present certain items as a natural “set.” That incredible pink himalayan salt is great after all, but it would look so beautiful in that glass salt grinder. Why not purchase both?
You see this a lot– clothing businesses will pair up complementary items to make a must-have outfit, and Amazon sometimes has options for you to purchase multiple related items at once. You can use the same strategy for your carousel ads.
I have two ways that I like to use this strategy.
The first is to target a cold audience with a set of items that will generally appeal to most of our demographics. If you were selling yoga supplies, for example, maybe you’d show a yoga mat, a yoga mat cleaner, a hot yoga towel, and yoga blocks. You’re showing someone everything they need to dive in and be ready for their first lesson.
The second tactic I like to use is to use retargeting to show customers complementary items to past purchases they’ve made. If they recently bought a new laptop from you, you might show them a carousel ad with an extra charger, a backup battery, a laptop carrying case, and a laptop hard shell protector. You know that these items are all directly relevant to this audience, and it increase the likelihood that you’ll get a sale.
For this strategy, choose to create a custom audience from a customer list, and use audience segmentation based on past purchases.
4. Increase Appeal by Discussing Features
Sometimes, the more you hear about a product, the more you have to have it. Hearing that a watch as step tracking technology is cool, but once you hear about the fact that it also tracks strength training reps, monitors your heart rate, gives you bluetooth notifications, and can be taken into the ocean, you have to have it.
Carousel ads are an excellent opportunity to really highlight as many features of your products as possible, making them that much more appealing to your target audience.
Use the different headlines and description text available to you on each slide in order to maximise your ad copy and highlight as many features of your offer as possible. The more you have, the better your ad will perform.
5. Provide a Valuable Resource
Content marketing operates on the principle that establishing relationships and offering value can increase sales, and offering resources and information to your audience through an ad campaign is a solid strategy, too. This may take the form of tutorials showing how to use a product, or even offering up information that could help customers make the right purchase choice for them.
The example below uses different slides to go over different face shapes and explain what glasses would look best. Since some customers may not want to purchase online because they worry about what would look good, this can overcome objections and increase sales.
By creating value up front before asking for a direct sale, you’ll be more likely to get users engaged by catching their interest up front.
Facebook Carousel Ads Best Practices
Incorporating carousel ads into your advertising mix is an excellent strategy. To ensure you’re seeing the highest ROI and CTR possible, try to include these best practices into your campaign:
Use a mix of video and still images. You don’t have to do this on every carousel ad you run, but don’t just rely on images alone. Some of the strongest examples we shared in this post were engaging specifically because of their reliance on video to keep people interested. Video is an excellent storytelling medium, and it gives you even more space to share information with your viewers. Use this in your carousel ads, at least on occasion.
Customise each slide’s text. One of the worst things you can do with carousel ads is not use the customisation options to their fullest potential. I immediately lose interest if I see an ad with multiple slides and images, but only a single headline shared amongst all of them. It feels like there just wasn’t enough good things to say. Use the description and the slide headlines to make your products appealing.
So instead of opting for this:
Go for this:
Both are showing different products and their prices with the hopes of driving sales, but one is much more convincing.
Customise each slide’s link. If you’re highlighting different products of services, make sure that each slide has the link to that specific product or service. If you don’t, you’ll likely get a decent share of clicks but a lot of drop-offs before conversions; no one wants to go digging on your site.
Keep image text minimal. Just because this isn’t a single image ad doesn’t mean you’re free from the 20% text rule. When you’re cropping your images, Facebook will tell you if your “text amount” meets their guidelines or not.
Facebook’s (and Instagram’s!) carousel ads have been an outstanding tool since they were rolled out several years ago, and they continue to be a powerful weapon in our arsenal today. Those high click-through and engagement rates can’t be ignored, and having more space to throw in some additional links, product features, and selling points can only work to your advantage when strategically optimised.
To see what types of carousel ads will work best for you, start with a few simple split tests. Try advertising different types of products, or use a few different creative strategies when creating your carousel ads. Testing will help you see what works best on each individual platform and what your audience is most receptive to.